The Wonderful Colours of Autumn

In the autumn, Ramat Hanadiv Gardens are dressed in bright shades of red and yellow, thanks to the leaves of Parthenocissus, the plane tree and other leaf-shedding trees. Just before they expose their nakedness, they invite us to their multi-coloured performance. And what happens to the leaves afterward?!

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Liquidambar styraciflua at the entrance to the gardens

The days are growing shorter, the nights are growing longer and colder and migratory birds adorn the cloudy sky. The air conditioners are on holiday, and in their place, the windows are open to the autumn breeze. And just now, when we’re wearing extra layers and bringing the blankets back to the living room, nature is beginning to undress, but not before it gives us a multi-coloured performance that warms our hearts against the autumn cold. You don’t need to go to a cold country; in our warm country we can also enjoy the yellow, orange and red autumn colours.

So which trees are shedding their leaves?

Right at the entrance to the gardens, as you walk along the main pathway through the Visitors Pavilion, you’ll encounter Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), climbing up the high stone walls and painting them hot red.  The lightest autumn breeze brings the red leaves raining down.

If you’re more into yellow...

If you’re more into yellow, you should get to know the plane tree. The London plane (Platanus x acerifolia), adjacent to the Rose Garden, has an impressive appearance. Its yellow shades are prominent and visible from afar. Young London plane trees will welcome you with festive yellowness along the paths between the carpark and the garden, and in the entrance plaza.

If you walk to the Footprint Garden on the western side of the Visitors Pavilion, you’ll be able to enjoy Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) – a medium-sized tree with diamond-shaped leaves that acquire a shade of deep maroon in autumn.

A glance from the gardens towards the nature park will treat you with the red patches that adorn the Mediterranean woodland, thanks to the Mt. Atlas mastic tree (Pistacia atlantica). You can also see it up close in the gardens, next to the burial crypt of Baron Rothschild and his wife.

Mt. Atlas mastic tree during fall

How are the autumn colours created?

The leaves contain yellow, orange and red molecules that protect them from the sun’s radiation. In the spring and summer they are covered in chlorophyll, which absorbs the sun’s energy, and colours them green. In the autumn, the deciduous trees begin to slow down their activity and enter hibernation. The chlorophyll in the leaf breaks down, and the other colours are exposed to the eye.

The soil enjoys a layer of leaves

Slowly, slowly, the leaves detach from the tree, fall to the ground and cover it in a colourful layer that protects it from evaporation and dehydration, and keeps it moist. Small animals also enjoy this layer of leaves, which provides them with a source of food, as well as protection from the sun, dehydration and predators.

a colourful layer that protects the ground from evaporation and dehydration, and keeps it moist

The layer of leaves undergoes natural process of decomposition and a range of nutrients are released from it to the soil; they dissolve in the water and are absorbed by the plant roots, which receive natural fertiliser.

For these reasons, you are recommended not to gather up the fallen leaves in your garden. If you couldn’t restrain yourself and already gathered up some leaves, here are some ideas for creative and enjoyable activities with them (in Hebrew only) >>

The trees are naked and good for pruning

During January-February the deciduous trees are already completely naked, and are hibernating. This is the best time to prune them: we can see the exposed skeleton and choose which branches to prune and direct the tree’s growth.

In general it is very desirable to shape the tree during its younger life stages, when it begins to establish itself in the soil. During these stages we are dealing with relatively short branches, and we’ll prune with secateurs or a manual saw that will not damage them.

It is important to prune up to one third of the tree’s volume, but no more, so that we don’t harm the living tissue, which is necessary for its continued growth.

Are you still with us? Now is the time to leave your screen and feel this beauty from up close. Come to visit the gardens, feel the autumn and enjoy its changing colours, before the winter takes its place.

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